When Don Kivelus gave me a call and asked if I’d assist at his make-your-own stove workshop I jumped at the chance to learn from Don, who came here to Vermont from St. Francis, Minnesota where for the past 20 years he has run Four Dog Stoves . Don produces handcrafted stoves of all sizes and outdoor uses, as well as educational materials and products related to wilderness and outdoor living skills.
I was a participant of a previous form of the workshop two years ago, have crafted a half-dozen or so of the units, and made a few modifications of my own over time. I have used my stove while motorcycle camping, on canoe trips, and on numerous backpacking excursions. I consider myself up to speed on trail use of this stove.
Before the actual Sunday morning workshop, Don demonstrated some small stoves in use. It was a cold raw day and folks were motivated to stand close to the heat. Here’s a YouTube video of Don demonstrating a modified Trangia 25-2 UL Stove setup that he uses on 3-4 person canoe trips.
Don has modified the Trangia setup to allow him to cook on a wood surface with one of his larger Bushcooker multi-fuel wood stoves as the heat source. To to the viewer’s right is a Bushcooker LT1, my current backpacking choice. Here’s the link for my previous Bushcooker LT1 review. At the far right is an example of the tin can Bush Cooker we’ll make.
Fourteen participants gathered outside the main hall. For the $40 workshop fee, Don supplied each participant with new half gallon ( windscreen), quart, and pint paint cans, as well as an Open Country 5 cup aluminum boiling kettle , titanium discs to cut out the slotted titanium burn chamber base, precut hardware cloth, alcohol reservoirs ( shoe polish tin), and the sundry pop rivets and fasteners that hold the unit together. Here is shot of the materials before things got moving.
Don gave a talk about the use of the stove before we started assembling it. This stove is now described as a multi-fuel stove, utilizing wood, alcohol, hexamine ( Esbit or Coghlan tablets), or charcoal.
Don told us that you can bring 8 separate liters of water to a roaring boil
with one 12 oz. bottle of yellow Heet ( alcohol) . The same amount of water would require a 4 oz. gas canister, 36 Coghlan fuel tablets, 18 Esbits, 24 ounces of dry wood, or 12 ounces of charcoal.
I agree with Don that the stove can bake in the charcoal mode, and that a tin of alcohol be placed up under stove to ignite the charcoal, which is not great for the quick burn needed to boil water, but is superb for baking purposes. Some additional facts about cooking are that a wider pot presents more surface to the flame pattern and results in use of less fuel that a narrow pot. Any stove needs a windscreen. It is astounding how much energy can be lost without one. Even if it is calm out, using a windscreen contains the heat from the fuel and channels it onto the surface of the pot. In terms of cooking pot materials, the progression from most to least efficient goes like this: steel, aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel. Titanium is unique in that the material is so strong that a pot can be made of much thinner stock so that the efficiency goes up.
Regardless of mechanical ability , everyone was able to complete their stoves. It was interesting to me to assist. Some folk’s stoves were partly dented and skewed, while other people were meticulous in every aspect of assembly, as they carefully measured, cut, clamped and drilled away.
Here is photo of my pal Mark Shaw with his new stove and setup.
Don took the time to assist participants with firing up their stove if they wanted to. I really enjoyed working with folks on this project and plan to offer an adult education course up here in Maine.
Making something like these stoves brings out the kid in you, and I believe that the thought and practice of building fires in these small units returns us to a primal state that we have not entirely abandoned in these modern times.
Click here for more web details about making your own home-made Bushcooker .